Several years ago while reading the book Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, I came across a profound word-picture. Barton shares that sometimes our lives are so cluttered with stuff that our minds become like a jar of water filled with dirt, that has been shaken up. I now realize that the bottle-full-of-muddy-water explains a lot of what lead up to my desire to quit pastoring, and it also explains why I was so impacted by my time away.
Like most of us, I wanted to do well as a pastor. But for many reasons, I was DRIVEN to succeed. As a result I was constantly focused on how to grow my church bigger and see more and more people get saved. Ultimately, I was so busy doing important stuff that ministry for Jesus swallowed up relationship with Jesus.
Jesus no doubt sees through our unhealthy motives, and sooner or later He steps away, and we are left with our own meaningless activities. Nothing seemed to be working very well, and I realized I wasn’t hearing from Jesus and I lost faith in my ability to lead.
It wasn’t until I got away from DOING MINISTRY FOR JESUS and couldn’t do anything else but SPEND TIME WITH JESUS that I began to HEAR JESUS. Think about what happens to a jar of muddy water. If you keep shaking it up, it never gets clear, but if you set it aside for a good amount of time, slowly the dirt settles to the bottom and the water at the top becomes clearer again.
Contemplative Prayer involves praying without words!
- Every day as part of your time alone with God, set aside a few minutes time to be alone with God, without saying anything.
- Express your desire to draw near to him, and invite him to draw near to you.
- Trust by faith that He is there, even if you do not “feel” his presence.
- Don’t even focus on trying to “get something out of this time”. Just be content to BE IN HIS PRESENCE
Let me know how it goes! I think you will find over time, Jesus does some very positive things in your life you may not have even noticed were happening at the time.